Cable Compendium: a guide to the week’s submarine and terrestrial developments

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12 Feb 2021

HyperOne, a new startup established by Australian technology entrepreneur Bevan Slattery, has revealed plans to spend USD1.5 billion on the deployment of a private Australia-wide fibre-optic backbone with interconnection points to new submarine cables. The project includes the deployment of more than 20,000km of fibre ‘connecting major data hubs in every capital city in every state and territory across Australia.’ A press release states: ‘HyperOne will also create new major interconnection points for more international undersea cables into Australia from Asia and as far as the Americas and Antarctica.’ According to a map on the project’s website, the backbone will interconnect Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Darwin, with two submarine links to Tanzania; onward connectivity to Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North America would also be provided. The HyperOne transmission network would be ‘capable of carrying over 10,000Tbps’, with the HyperOne project office already said to be in discussions with NBN Co, the Northern Australian Infrastructure Fund (NAIF), telecoms companies, various market participants as well as the federal and state governments.

Bulk Fiber Networks has revealed that it will leverage Ciena’s spectrum sharing technology on the Havfrue submarine cable system. Ciena will also provide its GeoMesh Extreme submarine network portfolio, based on its 6500 Submarine Line Terminating Equipment (SLTE), in addition to its Manage, Control and Plan (MCP) domain controller. The Havfrue submarine cable – owned and operated by a consortium comprising Bulk Infrastructure, AquaComms, Facebook and Google – traverses the North Atlantic to connect mainland Northern Europe (Denmark and Norway) to Ireland and the US. The system is comprised of a trunk cable connecting New Jersey (US) to Blaabjerg in the Jutland Peninsula of Denmark with branches landing in County Mayo (Ireland) and Kristiansand (Norway). The 7,200km cable system is optimised for coherent transmission and offers a cross-sectional cable capacity of 108Tbps, scalable to higher capacities utilising future generation SLTE technology. The submarine cable system was constructed by SubCom and achieved ready for service (RFS) status in November 2020.

Submarine networks operator Southern Cross Cable Network will use elements of Ciena’s GeoMesh Extreme submarine technology portfolio on the new 13,700km Southern Cross NEXT submarine cable system connecting Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa, Tokelau, Kiribati and California (US). Ciena will provide its 6500 SLTE, which leverages the company’s WaveLogic 5 Extreme coherent optics engine. The new Southern Cross NEXT cable is expected to be certified RFS in January 2022, bringing 72Tbps of total design capacity between Sydney (Australia), Auckland (New Zealand) and the US. It will add a third geographically diverse route to Southern Cross’ Pacific submarine network ecosystem, leveraging four fibre pairs.

Maroc Telecom’s Moov Africa is said to be planning to deploy a new submarine cable system from Casablanca (Morocco) to Togo. Abdellah Tabhiret, managing director of Moov Africa Togo, was cited by local news source Togo First as saying: ‘This cable will develop and improve international coverage and connectivity, especially national connectivity … It has a great capacity which will allow internet users to surf properly.’ Maroc Telecom’s West Africa cable will link Morocco to Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Benin, and Gabon.

US Telecom and Sprint Communications have requested that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) dismiss a joint application from 26 January 2021 for the pro forma transfer of control of a number of submarine cable landing licences held by Sprint Communications Company (SCC), which resulted from an internal corporate reorganisation involving indirect wholly owned subsidiaries of T-Mobile US. The transaction, which occurred on 31 December 2020, involved the merger of US Telecom into Sprint Communications, with Sprint as the surviving entity. This resulted in the pro forma transfer of control of SCC and its FCC licences and authorisations. The duo have submitted a revised application incorporating the complete list of Sprint’s submarine cable concessions: Americas-II 4.9% voting rights, Antillas 1 (4.88%), Japan-U.S. Cable Network (JUS) (3.75%), Maya-1 (4.48%), Pan American (PAN-AM) (5.61%) and Taino-Carib (6.28%).

The FCC has approved the pro forma assignment of the cable landing licence for the ACS Alaska-Oregon Network (AKORN) system, which connects Alaska and Oregon (US), from ACS Long Distance Inc to ACS Long Distance LLC, effective 1 January 2013. ACS Cable LLC claims that it previously sent notice of this pro forma transaction to the FCC within the 30-day period, but ‘that filing was evidently lost and does not appear in the FCC records today’. ACS Cable LLC subsequently updated the original notice and refiled the application to ensure that the FCC records are accurate and complete with respect to the transaction. The 3,000km AKORN system was certified RFS in April 2009 and has landing stations in Anchorage, Homer and Nikiski (Alaska) and Florence (Oregon).

Telefonica Larga Distancia de Puerto Rico (TLDI) has submitted a cable modification request to the FCC, following Turk Telekom and TLDI’s decisions to terminate their participation in the Columbus II system, effective 31 July 2020 (Turk Telekom) and 8 August 2020 (TLDI). The 2,070km Columbus II system links West Palm Beach (Florida) and Magens Bay (St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands) providing 600Gbps of bandwidth capacity (design capacity of 800Gbps). The system entered operations in October 1994, while its international segments were retired in 2009. AT&T was previously granted a Special Temporary Authority (STA) to operate the system until 10 August 2020, while the FCC considered the application for a new cable landing (granted in July 2020).

Gambian operator Gamtel has revealed that the country’s recent internet connectivity issues were caused by an ‘unintentional cut’ to a back-up cable link by a construction company, The Point writes. Deputy managing director of Gamtel Lamin Tunkara said: ‘The country was down because the backup link that connects us with the outside world [running through Farato] was disconnected. Certain workers that are working with NAWEC through a government contract were digging some poles and they happened to cut through our cables.’

Lastly, Vero Internet has selected Seaborn Networks as its international traffic partner for two new PoPs in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Both PoPs are part of the new Vero Internet CORE IP. Jose Felipe Ruppenthal, director of engineering for Vero Internet, said: ‘We chose to connect directly with a submarine cable operator, such as Seaborn, to have an international interconnection that offers high quality content with low latency and, consequently, improve the browsing experience for our customers.’ Vero Internet is currently connected to the Seabras-1 submarine cable linking Brazil to the US.

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